Venus fly trap black

My Venus Flytrap Is Turning Black: What To Do When Flytraps Turn Black

Venus flytraps are enjoyable and entertaining plants. Their needs and growing conditions are quite different from those of other houseplants. Find out what this unique plant needs to stay strong and healthy, and what to do when Venus flytraps are turning black in this article.

Why to Flytraps Turn Black?

Each trap on a Venus flytrap plant has a limited lifespan. On average, a trap lives about three months. The end may look dramatic, but there is usually nothing wrong with the plant.

When you find that the traps on a Venus flytrap turn black much sooner than they should or when several traps die at once, check your feeding practices and growing conditions. Correcting the problem can save the plant.

Feeding flytraps

Venus flytraps kept indoors depend on their caretakers to provide the insect meals they need to thrive. These plants are so much fun to feed that it’s easy to get carried away. It takes a lot of energy to close a trap and digest the food inside. If you close too many at once, the plant uses all of its reserves and the traps begin to blacken. Wait until the traps are fully open and feed just one or two a week.

If you’re feeding the right amount and the Venus flytrap is turning black anyway, perhaps the problem is what you are feeding it. If a bit of the insect, such as a leg or a wing, sticks outside the trap, it won’t be able to make a good seal so that it can digest the food properly. Use insects that are no more than one-third the size of the trap. If the trap catches a bug that is too large on its own just leave it alone. The trap may die, but the plant will survive and grow new traps.

Growing conditions

Venus flytraps are a bit fussy about their soil, water and container.

The fertilizers and minerals that are added to commercial potting soils help most plants grow, but they are fatal to Venus flytraps. Use a potting mix labeled specifically for Venus flytraps, or make your own from peat moss and sand or perlite.

Clay pots also contain minerals, and they leach out when you water the plant, so use plastic or glazed ceramic pots. Water the plant with filtered water to avoid the introduction of chemicals that may be in your tap water.

The plant also needs plenty of sunlight. Strong light coming in from a south-facing window is best. If you don’t have strong natural light available, you will have to use grow lights. Good care and proper conditions are essential to preserve the life and health of the plant.

FAQ: Why is my Venus flytrap turning black?

4 October 2017

If you’ve fed your Venus flytrap a tasty meal, only to have the trap turn black and die over the following days, don’t panic!

Traps can turn black for many different reasons, and most are not fatal to the plant. I’ve listed 5 of the most common causes below.

1. Inappropriate food

Don’t feed your plant bits of sausage, chocolate, or anything else it wouldn’t catch in the wild. This is a guaranteed way to cause the trap to rot. Snip off the dead leaf, and start feeding your plant properly!

A good Venus flytrap menu: mealworms, bloodworms, and crickets. View on Amazon.

If you’re feeding your plant bugs, don’t give it anything larger than about 1/3 the size of the trap. If the insect is too big, or if a stray leg or antennae is left poking out, it’s likely the trap will be unable to fully seal, which will again cause the leaf to die. Simply snip it out and wait for new growth to replace the old trap.

2. Stress from poor growing conditions

If your growing conditions aren’t ideal, your plant’s traps may turn black every time they’re fed, or even if they haven’t been fed at all.

Traps turning yellow before turning black – especially ones which haven’t been fed – are a common symptom of poor growing conditions.

  • Are you giving your plants suitable water? Tap water and bottled water often contain high levels of dissolved minerals which can burn your plant’s roots. Buy a TDS reader to test your water.
  • Is your plant getting enough light? Venus flytraps like full sun; growing them in a gloomy position will cause traps to turn black more frequently.
  • Are you using appropriate soil? Like most carnivorous plants, Venus flytraps need a nutrient-poor soil. Normal potting compost or anything with fertilizer will hurt your plant! Use only sphagnum peat moss mixed with lime-free horticultural sand and/or perlite.

You can read my complete Venus flytrap growing guide here, or grab a copy of Peter D’Amato’s carnivorous plant “bible”, The Savage Garden.

3. Overfeeding

Closing a trap and digesting an insect requires energy. If you feed every single trap on your plant – or worse, trigger the traps for fun without giving them a meal – it’s likely that some of the leaves will turn black and die.

This probably isn’t fatal, so don’t panic. Your plant is simply focusing its energy on producing new leaves. Hold off from feeding for a month or two, and in future, try to avoid feeding more than 1 trap per week (especially on small plants). You might also try putting your plant outside on a sunny day to let it try catching some food naturally.

Some cultivation advice I always give to new growers: feeding your plants should be the very last thing on your list! There are more important things which you should tackle first if you wish to grow carnivorous plants successfully.

4. Winter dormancy

Like many other temperate plants, Venus flytraps require a cold winter dormancy in order to survive long-term. As the daylight hours shorten and temperatures drop, it’s normal for some traps to go black and die as your plant enters its winter resting phase. In the northern hemisphere, this period typically lasts between November and February.

If your flytrap’s leaves have started to die in late Autumn (and if you’ve taken care of all their other growing requirements!), it’s likely that your plant is simply starting its dormancy. This is completely normal, and you can safely trim off any dead leaves and slightly reduce watering until Spring. Your plant will then begin producing new traps when the days get longer and temperatures rise. You can read more about Venus flytrap dormancy here.

5. Natural lifecycle

If it’s the oldest traps in the rosette which are turning black, or if the blackening trap has already caught and digested several insects, then this is likely a normal part of the trap’s lifecycle. If your plant is continuing to put out new growth to replace the old traps, then you have nothing to worry about.

A healthy plant (Dionaea muscipula) producing lots of new traps.

Hope this was useful – any questions, let me know in the comments. Happy growing!


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Venus Flytrap F.A.Q.

Venus Flytrap F.A.Q.

Dionaea muscipula

Venus Fly Traps can be very rewarding to grow but too often people run into problems and don’t know why. We have complied a list of frequently asked questions and common problems that should help answer most of your questions. Please use this information in conjunction with our culture instructions to help ensure that your new plant will thrive.

My Venus Fly Trap came with a plastic dome over it. Should I keep this on it or take it off?
Always remove any plastic dome from the plant. You may have to do this gradually over a period of a few days as the plant will be used to higher humidity. Lift the cup more and more each day until it is completely off after a week or so. Some nurseries will put these little plastic cups over the plants to help keep them from drying out while sitting on a store shelf but the plant will grow much stronger without it. No experienced carnivorous plant grower will grow their plants this way. This can also be used as a warning sign when shopping for fly traps. Plants under domes will tend to be softer, weaker and more prone to pests and disease.

What kind of light does my VFT need?
Venus Fly Traps grow out in full sun conditions in nature and require the same light levels in cultivation. If sunlight is not available, bright fluorescent light can be provided as a substitute. A minimum of 40 watts is needed and a day length no less than 14 hours should be given for optimum growth.

What kind of soil should I use to repot my plant?
The only type of soil you should use is peat moss. Never use potting soil or garden soil as these do not provide the right acidic conditions the plants need.

What kind of water should I use?
Always use either rain water or distilled water. If your tap water is very low in minerals you might be able to use it after letting it sit in an open container for a few days. Water that contains a lot of minerals and chemicals can quickly kill the plant.

How much humidity does my plant need?
VFTs are not tropical plants and actually like good air circulation. A humidity level of about 40%-70% is good.

What can I feed my plant?
Any small, soft-bodied insect can be used for food. Small crickets, spiders and flies will work well. If the food item is too large, it will rot before the plant can finish digesting it and the trap will turn black.

How often should I feed my plant?
As long as the plant is in full growth and has several traps open you can feed the plant. Never feed more than half the number of traps open at any one time. If the traps are not closing properly, remove the food item and check the growing conditions to be sure everything is being done correctly. Wait a few days and then try feeding again. It can take a week or so for a trap to completely ‘reset’ after digesting a meal.

I heard that hamburger is a good food for these plants. Is that true?
NO! Never feed any type of meat to your fly trap. It will cause the trap to rot and waste the plant’s energy.

Can I trick the trap into closing without actually feeding it?
It is possible to get the trap to close without feeding it just by touching the trigger hairs, however this is not a very good idea. Although doing this on occasion will not seriously hurt the plant, it does weaken it since the closing and opening is actually a growth process. If the plant does not get fed it will eventually run out of energy.

Can I use other types of fertilizer to feed the plant?
No. Never use any type of fertilizer with fly traps. They have very sensitive roots and it will quickly burn them and kill the plant. The insects that the plant traps act as a fertilizer.

Do I have to feed my VFT anything at all?
No, but it definitely helps them to grow faster and bigger. Just like regular plants, Venus Fly Traps can use sunlight to make energy if no insects are available.

Common Problems

My Venus Fly Trap leaves are just laying on the top of the soil and they won’t stand up. What’s wrong?
The plant is probably in its Spring or Fall growth phase. During this time the plant makes leaves that lie flat against the ground and the traps are somewhat smaller. As the days get longer the new summer leaves will emerge. These are longer, stand more upright and have bigger traps.

My plant does not seem to be growing very fast. I have a light over it but only a couple new leaves have come out and they are very small.
Insufficient light is probably the cause. VFTs grow in full sun in nature and need very bright light when grown indoors. See the info about lighting in the FAQ section.

My plant is making new, longer leaves but they are very thin and the traps are also small. Instead of standing upright they flop over to the ground.
Insufficient light is probably the cause. See the info about lighting in the FAQ section. Also, the humidity could be too high. VFTs do not like tropical conditions and need good air circulation. If there is a dome over the plant take it off!

I have tried feeding my plant but the traps do not close very quickly, or not at all.
Slow closing traps usually means that the plant is too cold. Since this is a growth process, the warmer the plant, the quicker it will close. Try raising the temperature to around 80 degrees and see how the plant reacts. If it is still not closing properly the traps may not be fully reset from a previous closing or the light may not be bright enough.

After I fed my plant the trap turned black.
This indicates that the food item offered was too large and rotted instead of being digested. Trim the black trap off and use smaller food items next time. In nature, insects that are too large to digest are also strong enough to escape from the trap, allowing the plant to avoid rotting a trap and wasting energy.

My plant is making new leaves and traps but some older ones are turning black.
This is normal. As the plant grows, older leaves are replaced with new ones so the plant cuts off energy to the old ones causing them to turn black. Simply trim them off and remove them.

The edges of my plant’s leaves are turning brown and dry.
This can be caused by a few different things. It can happen if the humidity is too low, causing the leaves to dry out. Humidity should be kept between 40%-70%. It can also happen if minerals are building up in the soil. Either repot the plant or flush the soil several times with rain or distilled water.

Happy Growing!!

Unlike most plants, Venus flytraps are carnivorous, which means they eat meat. Charles Darwin wrote in his 1875 publication, “Insectivorous Plants,” that the Venus flytrap is “one of the most wonderful in the world.” There’s no doubt that this opinion was formed after watching the jaws of this plant snap around an insect, capturing it for a meal.


Venus flytraps grow to around 5 inches (13 centimeters) in diameter. Each plant usually has about six stems with hinged leaves. The edges of the leaves are lined with “teeth,” and the leaves fit together like a clamshell. When the leaves snap shut, they form a trap. An individual trap grows to around 1 inch (3 cm), according to The International Carnivorous Plant Society.


Venus flytraps are native to North Carolina and South Carolina, but they have been introduced to other states, including Florida and New Jersey. They like the moist, acidic soil found in the understories of forests, according to the National Wildlife Federation. They also need high humidity and a lot of sunlight to flourish.

Habits & Diet

The most interesting thing about this plant is how it eats. Flytraps lure insects by the reddish lining in the leaves and by secreting a fragrant nectar. When bugs land in the jaws of the flytrap, it doesn’t clamp down right away. Sensory hairs, called trichomes, on the inside of the petals essentially count the movements from the insect. There must be at least two movements in 20 seconds or the petals won’t close. This prevents it from trapping debris or other items that wouldn’t make a good meal.

On the second movement, the plant closes its jaws in under a second by snapping from a convex shape to concave shape. The bristles on the edges of the leaves work like jail bars to prevent the insect from making an escape.

On the third movement, it starts to digest the insect. Digestive juices are introduced to the mouth area and they break down the insect. After five to 12 days, the plant will reopen and the parts of the bug that couldn’t be digested fall out.

The Venus flytrap’s primary prey is ants, but it will also eat flies, beetles, slugs, spiders and even tiny frogs. Flytraps don’t just eat bugs for nutrition, though. Like other plants, they also need water, gases and sunlight. Insects simply supplement their diet, according to the Botanical Society of America.

Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) with trapped fly (Image credit: Marco Uliana)


Venus flytraps reproduce like many other plants. When their flowers are pollinated, they create seeds. The seed mature after four to six weeks and become black and pear-shaped. These seeds are then spread and grow into new plants.

These flytraps can also reproduce asexually. The roots of the Venus flytrap will extend in the soil and create a bulb root. The new flytrap will grow from the bulb. A gardener can then separate the new plant and bulb from the parent plant by cutting the connecting roots.


Here is the taxonomy of the Venus flytrap, according to the Integrated Taxonomic Information System:

Kingdom: Plantae Subkingdom: Viridiplantae Infrakingdom: Streptophyta Superdivision: Embryophyta Division: Tracheophyta Subdivision: Spermatophytina Class: Magnoliopsida Superorder: Caryophyllanae Order: Caryophyllales Family: Droseraceae Genus: Dionaea Species: Dionaea muscipula

Conservation status

The Venus flytrap is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. These plants are vulnerable from over-harvesting and habitat destruction.

Another problem for flytraps is proper soil. Forest fires are sometimes beneficial to the understory of a forest. It can clear brush and allow more sunlight through to the understory. Since forest fires are often contained and put out by humans, the trees and brush become overgrown and the Venus flytraps don’t get the light they need.

There’s something unsettling about the idea of meat-eating plants, as this trapped Pacific tree frog can attest. Venus flytraps are one of the few plants that can move rapidly enough to capture bugs (and sometimes small mammals) for digestion. (Image credit: Goron Miller, Dreamstime)

Other facts

When the flytrap’s “mouth” is closed, it is sealed air tight. That helps keep out bacteria.

These are perennial plants, which means they bloom year after year. Their flowers are white with green veins running from the base of the petal toward the edges, according to the National Wildlife Federation.

It is estimated that Venus flytraps can live up to 20 years or longer, according to the National Wildlife Federation.

Additional resources

  • Discovery: Venus Flytrap Catches Flies Video
  • Smithsonian: The Venus Flytrap’s Lethal Allure
  • Better Homes and Gardens: How to Grow Venus Flytrap

Wacky Traps Venus Fly Trap

The Venus Fly Trap, or Dionaea muscipula, is part of a monotypic genus, meaning that there is only one species in the genus Dionaea and that species is muscipula. Unlike other plants, it isn’t possible to grow different species of the genus that have distinct traits. However, through cultivation and some harvesting of unique plants from the field, there have been multiple cultivated varieties, abbreviated as cultivars, of Venus Fly Traps established that have certain characteristics that make them distinguishable from a typical Venus Fly Trap.

A cultivar can be a plant or a very similar set of plants that have characteristics that make the plant stand out from other plants of the same species. You can think of cultivars like breeds of dogs. Just like certain breeds of dogs have defining characteristics, but they are all from the same species, it is the same with cultivated varieties of Venus Fly Traps.

So how do cultivars come to be? Well, it is actually a quite simple process. The description of the cultivar must be published in a widely published journal or book and the author of the cultivar description must register with an “International Cultivar Registration Authority” (ICRA). The ICRA for carnivorous plants is the International Carnivorous Plant Society. You can find the registration forms on the ICPS website and you can also submit a description to the ICPS newsletter for publication if you have a particular plant that you would like to make an official cultivated variety.

Red Piranha Venus Fly Trap

It is important to notice how cultivar names are written. You can identify a cultivar name by the fact that it is enclosed in single quotes. Double quotes indicate a descriptive name, but not an official cultivar. For example: D. muscipula ‘Red Piranha’ is an official cultivar name and it is put in singled quotes. However, D. muscipula “All Red Giant” is just a descriptive name for a particular plant that isn’t an officially registered cultivar.

Propagating Cultivars

The preferred method to propagate most Dionaea muscipula cultivars is vegetatively. Because vegetative propagation results in plants that are genetically identical to the parent plant, this is the simplest way to ensure that the genetic integrity of the cultivar is retained. However, it is possible to propagate cultivars sexually from seed provided that the offspring do in fact retain the characteristics as they are described in the cultivar registration. This is why it is important to have a very good description of a cultivar so that it is possible to be sure that the seed-grown offspring do exhibit the exact characteristics required to be considered the same cultivar as the parent plant.

Venus Fly Trap Cultivars

In recent years, primarily since 2012, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of officially registered Venus Fly Trap Cultivars. The International Carnivorous Plant Society has a list here, and the most current listing of Dionaea muscipula cultivars is kept in the Carnivorous Plant Database here, and as of January 29, 2015, they are both up to date.

To see photos of nearly all named varieties of Venus Flytraps be sure to check out Bob Ziemer’s CP Photo Finder.

Collecting Named Venus Fly Traps

There are quite a few people around the world who grow and collect named Venus Fly Trap varieties, regardless of whether they are officially registered or not. While there are some stores in the United States and Europe that offer quite a few varieties, by far the most comprehensive catalog of Venus Fly Traps For sale is at sells Venus Flytraps within the continental United States and Puerto Rico.

For individuals living outside of the United States, FlytrapStore International ships Venus Fly Traps in sterile culture around the world!

Below are a few photos of some of the more interesting and popular Venus Fly Traps being offered by the FlytrapStore network:

Korean Melody Shark Venus Fly TrapDC XL Venus Fly TrapAlien Venus Fly TrapCoquillage Venus Fly TrapFTS Maroon Monster Venus Fly TrapBig Mouth Venus Fly Trap

Venus flytrap

Venus flytrap, (Dionaea muscipula), also called Venus’s flytrap, perennial carnivorous plant of the sundew family (Droseraceae), notable for its unusual habit of catching and digesting insects and other small animals. The only member of its genus, the plant is native to a small region of North and South Carolina, where it is common in damp mossy areas. As photosynthetic plants, Venus flytraps do not rely on carnivory for energy but rather use the nitrogen-rich animal proteins to enable their survival in marginal soil conditions.

Venus flytrapVenus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula).© Robert and Linda Mitchell

The plant, which grows from a bulblike rootstock, bears a group of small white flowers at the tip of an erect stem 20–30 cm (8–12 inches) tall. The leaves are 8–15 cm (3–6 inches) long and have blades that are hinged along the midline so that the two nearly circular lobes, with spiny teeth along their margins, can fold together and enclose an insect alighting on them. This action is triggered by pressure on six sensitive hairs, three on each lobe. In normal daytime temperatures the lobes, when stimulated by prey, snap shut in about half a second. Glands on the leaf surface then secrete a red sap that digests the insect’s body and gives the entire leaf a red, flowerlike appearance. About 10 days are required for digestion, after which the leaf reopens. The trap dies after capturing three or four insects.

Everything you need to know about pots for your Venus Flytraps!

Space for root growth

Venus Flytraps are small plants, growing to about 5″ tall or wide at maturity, so they don’t need pots that are very wide, but depth is helpful.

Deeper pots allow for root growth. Root growth is helpful for the Venus Flytrap plant because longer thicker roots help the plant wick up available water and appropriate nutrients from the growing medium. With deeper pots and tray-watering (v. top-watering which is not recommended due to potential crown rot) the plant is forced to grow longer roots in order to reach the water.

This encouragement of root growth is the same reason expert growers use the technique of watering their Venus Flytraps, then waiting until the growing medium has lost much of its moisture, before watering again. The plant is forced to grow longer thicker roots in order to take advantage of any moisture that is left in the growing medium, whereas if it the Venus Flytrap plant were left constantly sitting in water there is no motivation to grow longer thicker roots because water is easily and readily accessible at all times.

It’s sort of like a military boot camp where you’re forcing your Venus Flytrap to get tough and strong, by not pampering it too much. Of course you never want your Venus Flytrap growing medium to go entirely dry, but making it work for its water results in a stronger tougher plant.

The type of pot then that you choose for your Venus Flytrap can encourage or discourage root growth. A minimum of 4″ in depth is necessary so that the rhizome or “bulb” of the plant doesn’t get too much water, and the roots can develop at least somewhat.

Any height taller than that minimum is optimal. Venus Flytrap roots can grow to around 12″ or so with some variation, so a pot that is slightly taller than that forces the roots to really bulk up and lengthen. If you see roots from Venus Flytraps that have been in taller pots and have not been overwatered, they’re incredibly thick and long, like Venus Flytrap dreadlocks!

Insulation protection

For the width of the pot, more space is helpful in terms of insulation The more soil that is in the pot, the more the rhizome of the Venus Flytrap is insulated from extreme heat and cold. Venus Flytraps are great in temperatures between about 40-95F, but can get overheated or freeze in extreme temperatures.

Venus Flytraps, especially those with larger rhizomes, more mature and older, can actually survive a frost/freeze or two, though they’ll likely lose their foliage up top until the growing season starts again in Spring. The more growing medium that surrounds the rhizome, the more insulated it will be against extreme conditions, so that the cold and heat and less likely to reach the rhizome at their full intensity.

Growing medium for Venus Flytraps can add up in cost though, so really realistically, you just need 2 inches or so around each side of the rhizome, and 6 inches outwards of the rhizome in each direction is really nice insulation. In the most extreme of temperatures, of course, all the insulation in the world won’t keep the plant from freezing, so there is a point where you bring the Flytrap inside of course.

In terms of pot/container types, you want to again look for insulation, so glass is definitely out, because it magnifies the heat/cold coming at it. Ceramic is not great either. Plastic is fine, especially thick plastic. Fiberglass is great, especially thicker fiberglass. Whatever the type of pot, just consider the insulation, especially as related to the extremes of weather where you live with your Flytraps.

It’s not a big deal, actually, the insulation thing, because most growing locations don’t have extreme temperatures most of the year. But to be safe, it’s good to prepare for extremities, and pot your Venus Flytrap in a pot with good insulation and good space for growing medium that can insulate it from unexpected or temporary extreme weather conditions.

In terms of the growing medium for the pot, and calculations for insulation possibility, you’ll want to keep in mind that although a peat moss type of growing medium doesn’t encourage the growth and transplant recovery like premium long-fibered sphagnum moss does, it does insulate a little bit better.

So your calculations will involve 1) temperature extremes in your area, 2) insulation of your pot, and 3) insulation of your growing medium. You can decide based on these factors what type of pot you will choose.

If all of this seems complicated, please know it’s actually not, we’re just going into depth because we’re trying to cover all the details. But it’s really not terribly complicated. Just check on your Flytrap by feeling the outside of the pot – if it feels uncomfortable to you then it’s uncomfortable for your Venus Flytrap, too, either too hot or too cold. Adjust accordingly.

Great-case scenario, honestly, is one of those taller white Styrofoam cups. They insulate great, they’re white so they reflect some of the heat back outward, and they’re cheap. They are terrible for the environment, but honestly it’s a decent and easy option to serve as your Venus Flytrap pot.

Death traps aka Terrariums

A last note, please for the love of Venus Flytraps, do not place your pot in a terrarium, which is a death trap for your Flytrap. Or geez forbid one of those domed situations that are touted as Venus Flytrap habitats. A covered pot is only good for growing seedlings, not for Venus Flytrap plants older than that. You’re just asking at that point for rot and disease. Let your Venus Flytrap in its pot be outside in the glorious sunshine with the glorious air movement. It’s best for its health, I promise you. And probably humans too!

How do I grow them?

“Give them a sunny spot and keep soil damp by sitting the pot in a saucer that can be filled with water. If you are growing the plants inside, a sunny windowsill is ideal,” recommends Better Homes & Garden’s gardening editor.

“When winter arrives, move indoor potted plants onto a verandah or porch outside – they need a period of dormancy. Lift the pot out of its saucer to allow soil to drain, and only water once a week during this time.”

Where to grow them?

When you’re looking to grow a Venus flytrap of your own, the best place to plant them is in an environment with moist, acidic soil, exposed to plenty of sunlight. During winter, indoor is far more suitable – a terrarium can provide the perfect environment.


Caring for and feeding them

The best bit about Venus fly traps? They’re carnivorous, which means they can feed themselves. Given they have a mouth of their own, insects are their go-to snack. However, if there aren’t enough flies buzzing around, you can use a high-nitrogen soluble fertiliser. The half strength solution should be applied to both leaves and soil.


Habitat and varieties

There is only one species of Venus flytrap: Dionaea muscipula. However, there are over 20 varieties which vary slightly in colour and shape. The most common type is the Akai Ryu variety.

The Venus Fly Trap is native to subtropical wetlands on the East Coast of the United States in North Carolina and South Carolina. However, they are readily available in Australia, and can even be found at Bunnings.

You might also like:

What to plant in your garden this August

Plant selection and placement tips

How to Grow and Care for the Venus Flytrap in Containers

Intro: Venus flytraps are carnivorous plants that trap and digest insects and arachnids, while also using photosynthesis to get energy. The plant’s motion is triggered when hairlike structures are contacted. Venus flytrap hairs actually must “feel” an insect twice within 20 seconds, otherwise the carnivorous plant does not recognize it as a nutritional object (could be a piece of debris that fell onto it).

Insects are attracted to the sweet-smelling nectar of the Venus flytrap. After an insect is caught, the Venus flytrap will secret an enzyme that will break down the food so it can be digested. After several days, the plant will open back up and wait for another meal. These carnivorous plants are small – with each having four to seven leaves with a head at the end of each (the mechanism that traps insects), and each leaf can be up to 4.5 inches long. They do well in very small plant containers. Small white flowers will appear in the spring. Venus flytraps need a lot of care and can be difficult to grow.

Scientific Name: Dionaea muscipula

Plant Type: Carnivorous plant

Light: Bright light (no full sun)

Water: Use distilled water (or water that has sat out for at least 24 hours) when watering your Venus flytrap plants.

Zone: During the summer, keep the Venus flytrap plant at a temperature between 70 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit (must be humid). In the winter, this container plant will die back, and it should be kept in a cool place (between 45 and 50 degrees) for about three months.

Fertilizer: Do not fertilize Venus flytrap plants, as they get extra nutrition from insects.

Pests and Diseases: Aphids, springtails, mealybugs and some other garden pests may harm your Venus flytrap plant.

Propagation: The Venus flytrap plant is most commonly propagated by division in the spring or summer. You can also wait until the flowers produce small black seeds. Venus flytraps grown from seed can take up to five years to grow to maturity. If you don’t want to propagate your Venus flytrap by seed, you may want to cut the flower, as it takes energy from the plant to produce the seeds.

Misc. Info: Venus flytraps require the dormant period described in the “Zone” section above.

Plant Venus flytraps in peat or sphagnum moss, as well as perlite. Keep it in a terrarium or under a glass, or place a pebble tray underneath its plant container – do whatever it takes to keep the air around it humid. Trim off dead leaves and heads.

You will need to feed the Venus flytrap plant if it cannot naturally get insects. Provide several dead insects a month, such as a fly that died of natural causes (no poison!).

If cared for correctly, Venus flytrap plants can live up to 30 years.


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